With a string of successful Acquia certifications amongst the development and support team at Ixis, including several Grandmasters now, it felt like a great time to share the knowledge and experience of the team to help others who are preparing for their Acquia certifications.
There’s been many articles on exam revision content and question structure - but not so many that talk about the exam experience and being ready for the test day.
Our Drupal development team lead Paul Byrne has had his fair share of technical challenges when sitting down to take the test - something you don’t need right before the start time of your exam!
Here are some details of how he’d advise to best prepare yourself before entering the exam, from Paul’s own experiences:
Be Prepared in 5 steps:
The exams are carried out by an external organisation via the website webassessor.com. It uses a software security platform called Sentinel.
1. Make sure you download this in advance and ensure it can be started successfully on your machine. You’ll also have the opportunity to confirm your camera and audio are working correctly with the software. We’ve had challenges with camera compatibility in older MacBooks before.
2. Hardware-wise, you’ll need a suitable PC or Mac with a camera so you can be watched - a laptop is ideal because you’ll have a camera built-in and can move around to find the best place to take an exam.
3. Think ahead to where you will be taking the exam - you’ll need to select a location that’s quiet and free from distractions for a few hours. More importantly, make sure it’s well lit with no shadows from sunlight coming through a window. The Sentinel software employs facial recognition which can fail if the lighting is poor.
4. The Sentinel facial recognition check is for the biometrics data that is recorded before the test - this is stored for the future. If sufficient time has passed since your previous exam, or your appearance has changed (such as a new beard or hairstyle) the facial recognition may fail. For Paul, this required contacting Kryterion support to reset the biometric data. We'll leave it to you to decide whether Paul grew a beard or simply aged badly.
5. Before you begin you’ll need to remove any headphones, earphones/AirPods, in-ear electronics etc. that could be feeding answers into your head. Likewise, hats, beanies, sweatbands or anything that can obscure the visibility of your ears must be removed before exam time.
Once both you and your surroundings meet the guidelines given, you can hop on to the webassessor.com site (they advise you log on 5-10 minutes before your scheduled exam to give you some time to relax and get your head in gear)
Taking The Exam
Your camera is required to be switched on throughout the exam. There are live invigilators on the other end watching your movements at all times and will communicate if they suspect any suspicious activity - even if it’s innocent from your side.
Something as minor as looking away from the screen to check a clock on the wall could be misconstrued as you checking another computer screen or tablet device for help.
Reading out the questions aloud, or just opening and closing your mouth whilst reading can be seen as you trying to communicate with somebody else in the room.
It really is this strict! So try and watch your body language and make sure it can’t be seen as anything other than innocent fidgeting.
If you can’t be alone, avoid responding to anybody else in the room if they interrupt your exam by mistake.
If your exam is terminated due to your action being taken as attempts to cheat, you’ll need to pay for and re-book the exam.
The exams are broken into subject areas and amount to around 60-70 multiple-choice questions. However, just because they’re multiple choice doesn’t make the exam a walk in the park.
These days there’s lots of help for revision -- if you have a Drupalize.me training account you can swot up for any of the exams:
Make sure you read the exam questions calmly, read the answer choices, then read the question again.
Look out for subtle ‘gotchas’ or differences in similar-sounding terms in your answer options; for example Cache contexts vs Cache tags.
Paul found that running through all the questions from start to finish and answering those he felt most confident with first was a good method. It provided visibility on the areas to focus more on. It also gave him the chance to work out how much of the remaining exam time he could dedicate to each of the remaining questions.
Don’t waste time scratching your head on the first pass of questions, mark things you need to re-visit and move swiftly on.
When you get to the end of the questions there’s a summary page highlighting unanswered or questions you’ve marked for review, which is handy to make sure you’ve not overlooked anything.
Remember the exam time limit is a maximum. If you’re confident with your answers, you can finish early but it never hurts to check through your answers if you do reach the end with time to spare.
Looking to kick-start your journey to becoming Acquia qualified? We can help make it happen.
We're always looking for new people to join our team, visit our careers page to see what we have available right now.